Lead Smarter, Not Harder Tip 4: Quit Chasing Initiatives

My principal shared an amazing YouTube video with us the other day, y’all. 

Check it out:

You can see the leadership connections, can’t you?  

Every time a new tennis ball falls, that poor dog is torn:  Should I hold on to the ball that I’m currently holding or should I chase the new ball?  Is the ball that I have good enough, or is the new ball better?  Can I hold more than one ball in my mouth?  How can I find a way to keep the ball I have AND get another one to save for later?

Now think of each tennis ball as a new initiative.  

Schools are often buried in their own tennis balls, aren’t they?  And we always seem to do our best to grab onto as many of those balls as we possibly can — whether it’s PBIS or Next Gen Science Standards or the 4 Cs or 21st Century Learning or Understanding by Design or Restorative Circles or PBL….or any of the other four thousand good ideas that surround us at any given time.

The results are just as disastrous as they are for the dog in the video.  We end up scattered and confused and excited and frustrated all at the same time.  Trying to do everything, we end up struggling to get anything done.

What’s the solution?  

Stop chasing a thousand new initiatives all at the same time.  Instead, invest in a small handful of projects that matter most to your school right now, and work it well.  Follow Doug Reeves’s advice and modeling “lifeguard leadership.”  Or Warren Buffett’s advice and creating an “Avoid at All Costs” list to keep yourself — and more importantly, your school — focused.

Here’s a handout that can help:

Handout – Developing an Avoid at All Costs List

That’s leading smarter, not harder.



Related Radical Reads:

Lead Smarter Tip 1:  Understand Teacher Approaches to Change

Lead Smarter Tip 2:  Start Asking Better Interview Questions

Lead Smarter Tip 3: Start Building Social Capital with Everyone


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  1. Pingback: Sound Leadership Advice from Mike Mattos. | THE TEMPERED RADICAL

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